Arc System Works has brought players some spectacular 2D arcade fighting games in the past including the heavy anime-inspired Guilty Gear, BlazBlue, Persona 4 Arena and the rather recent Dragon Ball FighterZ. However, Arc System Works are now back at it again and have now brought us their latest title Granblue Fantasy: Versus.
If you haven’t heard of Granblue Fantasy franchise before, it’s began as a Japanese role-playing mobile game (from Cygames) that gained interest from players as the game reunited music composer Nobuo Uematsu and art director Hideo Minaba who beforehand worked on titles such as Final Fantasy V, VI and IX. Since then, Granblue Fantasy has spanned into an anime series with two seasons and is now taking the battle to the stage arena in a 2D arcade fighting style game.
As the title would suggest – the game is a head-to-head versus beat-up where you attempt to lower your opponent health bar as you blast through your opponents with scorching attacks and skills until your adversary is knocked out of the best of three rounds. A striking feature (yes, pun intended) of Granblue Fantasy: Versus is the fact the game is catered to all levels of experience and skill from the casual to the veteran players. How does the game achieve this? Well, there are two ways of executing moves. To trigger a move you can input simple or more advance commands onto the gamepad, however, if you input the simple commands you’ll have to wait longer until you can use the move once again. Whereas, if you use advance commands, the cooldown period is substantially shorter.
This interjects a fun way for casual players of the fighting genre to see elaborate moves such as Skybond Art attacks that feature very stupendous animations every time activated much earlier. However, for the veteran players, they continuously have the trade-off in the battle of what manoeuver of commands would best suit the situation. One could say, the game is easy to pick up, but hard to master. The main drawback from this is that the game doesn’t offer the biggest cast of moves, to begin with, so it would have highly benefitted with a bit more variety of moves. Nevertheless, I really appreciated they’ve attempted to open the cast wide for the number of players that can sit down and enjoy this game.
RPG mode is where you’ll be able to relish the new tailored story of Granblue Fantasy. The story follows Gran, Lyria and the crew as they head to Albion Citadel to meet up with Katalina at an agreed location. However, like any good action-adventure story, things go downhill very quickly. RPG mode deviates from the rest of the game as it adopts a side-scrolling beat-up combat system. Various enemies will appear on the screen and you’ll have to go back-and-forth to defeat them in a time limit to continue to the next part of the story. Upon finishing a quest, you’ll have the result page, where it will inform you of the experience gained, rupies, and overall level rank from finishing that level.
You will also gain weapons, that will embody a certain element that will in-turn determine your characters element. Furthermore, you’ll also acquire support skills that will help you along with your battles. After reaching a certain point in the storyline you can request backup from a fellow online player to help you tackle quests. You also have the option of being supported by another player in some good old classic couch-co-op. Requesting backup is a really unique feature, as it’s not often you can enjoy a storyline mode with a fellow player. The backup is by no means necessary though, if anything, it could potentially be argued that the difficulty level in RPG mode is perhaps too easy. RPG mode storyline is newcomer friendly, even though hard-core fans of the franchise may gain more from the experience as the story unfolds.
You can change the language from Japanese to English dubbed. There will always be players that will lean to one preference over another. Admittedly, I always enjoy these type of games in Japanese but to my pleasant surprise, the English dub was spot on and was thoroughly enjoyable on its own merit. So even if you’re a player that is off-put by Japanese subtitles, there no need to worry as you’re in good hands with the English dub.
There is a variety of other features alongside RPG mode. Including Arcade, where you can pick the difficulty level and enter combat; one after another until defeating all adversaries. Free Training and Mission Training is essentially a glorified tutorial helping you learn the basics and in-depth part of the game mechanics. Versus mode allows the player to fight against one another, whether it’s CPU or Player 2. In versus mode before engaging in battle, characters will have a mini-cut scene and they are without a doubt visually stunning. This segment is even more personalised as dependent on which character you and your opponent pick they enter into a dialogue where they address one another directly. This adds a layer of submersion that you’re about to take part in a battle with this particular character in question.
The characters roster features some of the main characters from Granblue Fantasy universe featuring Gran, Katalina and Charlotta. It should be noted with the standard version of the game there are only 11 characters available. Indeed, you can unlock the character Beelzebub through finishing the RPG mode. Another way of obtaining Beelzebub is through the DLC content alongside with Narmaya. More characters are scheduled to be introduced in the long run through DLC content, but the character roster does more lean on the shorter side.
There is also an online feature, where you can battle with friends or put your skills to the test in ranked matches. In these matches, you’ll participate in 7 matches to determine your ranking. From there, it will match you up with players of a similar skill level. Considering, you don’t have to wait too long in the online lobby to find an opponent, which is pretty neat.
Granblue Fantasy: Versus PS4 Review
Overall - Fantastic - 8/10
Granblue Fantasy: Versus doesn’t pull any punches and is a thoroughly gratifying experience with its vibrate artistic designs. This 2D arcade fighter is open to a variety of players at any skill level that leads to pretty much anyone can pick up and enjoy this game.
- Easy to pick up and play
- Two-tier combat system
- Visually stunning animation
- Japanese and English dub is excellent
- Small character roster
- RPG mode is potentially too easy
- Not the biggest selection of moves available
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using PS4 Slim.
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